Supporting Local Adaptation to Climate-Driven Risks: From Assessment to Action

Supporting Local Adaptation to Climate-Driven Risks: From Assessment to Action

Alex Score
Time Slot: 
Concurrent Sessions 7
Session Type: 
Tools and Posters

Although climate change is global, much of adaptation is local. But adaptation can be a daunting task for communities. During this session we’ll be exploring different approaches to supporting community adaptation based on work supporting Los Angeles, Hampton Roads, New York City and communities in New York State. Our session will conclude with a group discussion about community adaptation – What’s working? What is not? Where is there room for improvement?


Municipality and University Collaborations: Developing Adaptive Solutions
Carol Lynn Considine, Old Dominion University
  • Carol Considine, Old Dominion University
  • Ann Claire Phillips, A.C. Phillips, LLC
  • Mason Andrews, Hampton University
  • Mujde Erten-Unal, Old Dominion University
  • Navid Tahvildari, Old Dominion University
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The Hampton Roads region located in southeastern Virginia is susceptible to the impacts of climate change, experiencing sea level rise at twice the global rate. Municipalities throughout the region are at different stages in adaptation planning, some obtaining federal funding to help them evaluate and plan for future impacts and others struggling with resource limitations and competitive pressures. Universities can help fill this resource gap while moving adaptive science forward. The collaboration project between Old Dominion University, Hampton University, City of Portsmouth, City of Chesapeake and City of Virginia Beach based on the shared watershed of the southern branch of the Elizabeth River provides an example of how this collaboration can provide cities with needed information to help them start adaptive planning, help them understand what additional information they need and provide faculty and students with opportunities to develop solution suites that have broad applicability to solving real world problems. The process of these collaborative efforts, the selection of study areas, proposed solutions, and identified additional work needed will be highlighted.

Integrating Vulnerability and Risk for Climate Adaptation in Los Angeles County
Chloe Fleming, NOAA/CSS, Inc.
  • Seann Regan, NOAA/CSS, Inc.
  • Amy Freitag, NOAA/CSS, Inc.
  • Heidi Burkart, NOAA/CSS, Inc.
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Impacts from coastal hazards threaten coastal communities and the ecosystem services upon which they rely. Many of these communities are densely populated, economically and culturally important, and entwined with environmentally sensitive habitats and green spaces. To better prepare for coastal change, integrated vulnerability assessments are necessary to plan for and improve community resilience to climate and coastal hazard impacts.
Our Integrated Vulnerability Assessment Framework utilizes a geospatial approach to intersect vulnerability and risk through quantitative and qualitative analyses. While many vulnerability assessments focus on a single aspect of vulnerability and/or risk, our Framework identifies and develops a variety of both vulnerability and risk profiles, focusing on the built, social, and natural environments in the face of climate driven hazards.
As one of the nation’s largest and most populous counties, with 4,084 square miles and approximately 10 million residents, Los Angeles County, California hosts an extensive range of landscape and ecology types, community profiles, and coastal and climate risks. We implemented the Framework in this area to analyze the region’s diverse threats, including erosion, wildfire, coastal flooding, heat, and drought, and also evaluated the County’s variation in social and economic factors, such as disparities in income, education, and employment opportunities. Through the lens of political ecology, we further examined the complex relationship that exists between society and extreme events in this highly urbanized environment. Our findings illustrate the importance of understanding and conceptualizing integrated vulnerability and risk to better inform adaptation and mitigation planning for coastal communities.

Preparing for Extreme Rain Events in New York City
Alan Cohn, NYC Department of Environmental Protection
  • Peter Adams, NYC Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency
  • Susanne DesRoches, NYC Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency
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Rainfall poses a set of interwoven challenges to New York City that require coordinated solutions, and the City of New York is working to improve water quality and address urban flooding challenges posed by increasing annual precipitation and extreme rain events. Improving water quality benefits communities, protects ecosystems, and reduces EPA penalties; control of urban flooding increases safety and limits damage to public and private property, and must be integrated with preparation for coastal surge events like Hurricane Sandy. Integrated stormwater management can address both concerns simultaneously. This presentation will describe the measures that the City of New York is taking to develop a better understanding of flood risks posed by extreme rain events and to coordinate and strengthen initiatives, across agencies, between the public and private sectors, and between resiliency and sustainability initiatives. It will also describe how international collaboration on the topic of extreme rain events has helped engage City staff to better understand potential risks and responses.

A hydrologist and community leader walk into a bar... lessons on community-focused inland flood planning
Megan O'Grady, Abt Associates
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Communities have an ever-expanding library of tools to help them better understand how climate change might change their flooding risk but many of these tools are inaccessible to most communities. Many of them require significant technical knowledge or large computational resources, such as complex hydrology and climate models. Additionally, many of the tools available are aimed at helping coastal communities better prepare for changes to coastal flooding, but few are available to help inland communities prepare for riverine and nuisance flooding. With support from NYSERDA, our project team sought to address these issues by working directly with two communities in upstate New York to help them better understand potential changes to their inland flood risk. Based on this experience we also created a toolkit for other communities. We gathered existing information from the communities including historical records and local knowledge and discussed what type of information would be the most helpful to them, within the constraints of climate uncertainty. We then used existing tools such as the USGS FutureFlow, state-wide climate projections, FEMA flood plain maps, and USBR downscaled hydrology to assess a range of potential changes to each community’s future flood risk. Finally, we conducted a workshop with each community to present the results and discuss the implications of the results for the community. From this experience, we created a user-friendly, interactive guidebook that other communities in New York can use to conduct a similar assessment process that best fits their community’s needs.

Coastal Adaptation in Hampton Roads: Practice, Engagement, & Education
Carol Lynn Considine, Old Dominion University
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Hampton Roads is experiencing sea level rise at twice the global rate and has become a test bed of approaches for evaluation of sea level rise risk and adaptation responses. This symposium will showcase a broad range of projects in the region including: City of Virginia Beach’s resilience efforts addressing sea level rise and stormwater planning to focus on water quality; a proven methodology for resilience outreach; a process to guide acquisition of residential parcels for green space in an urban landscape; a cross-university, cross disciplinary program developing real world interventions for communities impacted by sea level rise; and two case studies of risk assessment, one for the local port and one for three municipalities that also includes a suite of flood solutions for urban and suburban neighborhoods. Partnerships for these projects cross sectoral boundaries and include educational institutions, private industry, and multiple municipalities. As coastal cities work toward adaptation, multi-sectoral collaboration projects have the ability to fill resource gaps, and bring expertise from all sectors for successful adaptation response. This symposium will include examples of interactive techniques that have proven successful in resilience outreach including the use of clicker response, and audience learning and participation.